Some people have argued that the phenomenon of cover songs is inexorably bound up with racism— white musicians lifting black music. For example, Don McClean wrote that “A ‘cover’ version of a song is a racist tool.” I don’t think so. Here’s part of what I say in a current draft…
…although covers were sometimes used as racist tools, racism is not intrinsic to the concept of a cover as such. As Michael Coyle puts it, crossover covering of R&B hits by white artists “exploited racist inequality but did not arise because of it.” The word cover originally had a sense of coverage which was not in itself tied to race, and covers in that sense continued.
I just read a nice paper by Gabriele Contessa on the mitigation of inductive risk, cleverly titled On the Mitigation of Inductive Risk.1 His primary question is whether responsibly applying values in science should left be left to individuals or whether there ought to be community-level processes. He offers a number of arguments against the individualistic approach and briefly sketches what a socialized approach might look like.
Like many other professors, I started making video lectures last Fall. It was hard but unsatisfying work. Even so, 97% of the students in the section of Introduction to Logic that just concluded thought that my video lectures were at least somewhat clear and helpful.1
The article ends by recommending Philosophy resources for scientists and, under the heading of Logic and inference, suggests my free textbook forall x.
They don’t link to the webpage for the textbook here at fecundity.com, instead linking to the University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library. Nonethless, they give the citation as “(Fecundity, 2012).” It’s odd to see that in the same sentence as “(Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).”
“I say, Holmes, how did you know that the crucial evidence would be in the galley of the yacht?”
“It was an elementary inference, Watson. As you were so quick to point out, the locked room showed that the murderer could not possibly have committed the crime and escaped. Yet the body of the victim and the absence of murderer showed that they had done so. I was puzzled until I remembered that everything follows from a contradiction, and this allowed me to conclude that the crucial evidence would be wherever I looked.”
“I see,” I said, although I really did not see. “But why the galley of the yacht?”
Holmes looked at me as if I were missing the obvious. “Because I was hungry. If I could find the evidence anywhere, then I might as well find it somewhere I could also make a sandwich.”
“Right then! But what about relevance constraints on logical consequence?”
“Watson, you disappoint me. If there were relevance constraints on consequence, then I could not have solved the crime. I did, so there are not.”
Then I realized that I, too, could derive anything from the contradiction Holmes had exploited. So Holmes conceded that I was clever, poured me a cup of tea, and left me alone for the rest of the afternoon.
I’ve been thinking a lot about cover versions lately. A cover is typically the same song as the original version. Even if the words are changed a little, the broader meaning is the same. An example I’ve used before is Willie Nelson’s cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Where Simon sings about “a girl from New York City”, Nelson makes it “a girl from Austin Texas.”
Yet there are also cases in which the very same lyrics can mean something different, because of a change in who sings them. Consider some examples.